Column/Top guys you want when you want to win

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 26, 2006

Don’t you just love a guy you can count on?

There’s nothing better than looking over your shoulder and seeing someone you know has your back.

That’s especially true in sports.

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Heat of the moment, game on the line – all it takes is one.

Here is my tribute to the new breed of clutch players.

Let’s meet the “All Icewater Team” as we go down “The List.”

6. Matt Leinart – The national championship game didn’t look too good for USC’s former quarterback, I’ll admit. I even picked Texas to win.

But if they played next weekend, all my chips would be on the lefty.

You just don’t beat a guy this good twice. Anyone remember the Notre Dame game? Possibly the best college football game in history, and it’s because Leinart was smart enough to lull the Irish defense to sleep by faking like he was going to spike the ball on the next play. Then he took the snap and fell (not so gracefully) over the goal line for the winning touchdown. You can’t teach stuff like that.

5. Marvin Harrison – Excuse me, Keyshawn and T.O., but I’ve found someone else I would rather give the damn ball to.

Funny how you never hear about the most durable, most reliable, by far the most underrated wide receiver in the entire world.

But that’s because his hands and feet do all the talking. If I were Peyton Manning, I would be washing this guy’s car every weekend.

And then throw in a free trip to the spa.

4. The U.S. Soccer team – Oh, my bad. They’re terrible. Plus, you don’t care about them.

How in the world did that make its way into my column?

3. Derek Jeter – Man I hate admitting a Yankee is this good. But honestly, if he were playing for the Red Sox, I’d think he was the greatest thing since boxer briefs.

So I will put my loyalty aside momentarily and recognize the greatness. Backhanded flips to the plate, dangerous leaps into the stands and aerial, twisting throws to first base – all in a day’s work for this guy.

It’s shocking how consistently good he has been.

2. Dwyane Wade – This kid is the truth.

I was a little worried my prediction of Heat in 6 was in danger after the Mavericks went up 2-0 early in the NBA Finals.

Then the light bulb came on.

For the past two years Wade has been a showcase waiting to happen, and he happened all over Dallas.

I think Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban are still crying together somewhere.

What did he average in those six games, like 87 points? It was a whole lot.

And anyone who can say he carried Shaq is some kind of man.

1. David Ortiz – I’m not showing favoritism because he plays for the Red Sox.

And even if I was, it’s my column. Deal with it.

For the past two weekends, I’ve watched this guy beat teams with walk-off home runs.

He almost single handedly killed the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS with game-ending hits.

And he leads the majors this year with 20 game-winning RBIs. If he’s not the best clutch player in the game, then my middle name isn’t Buford.

What? My middle name isn’t Buford? Oh, well, Ortiz is still good.

He may be the single-best reason to watch baseball, and I’m not saying that just because he’s my cousin.

Okay, we’re not related, but when I tilt my head, you can see the resemblance.

George L. Jones is sports editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at